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Should You Give Your Nanny a Raise?

Learn when you should increase your nanny's pay and how much of an annual raise you should give.

Your nanny is a professional — and you should treat her as one. Part of that is thinking about things like raises, which are common in most jobs. Here are the six instances when you should increase your nanny’s pay rate.

Do you have a babysitter? Learn when you should give your sitter a raise.
 

  1. A Year Has Passed
    “It’s customary and traditional to give your nanny an annual raise,” says Susan Tokayer, former co-president of theInternational Nanny Association. A great time to discuss the raise is during your nanny’s annual review.

    How much should you give? Start with the rate of inflation in the past year (check the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index), then add between two and five percentage points, based on your nanny’s performance.

    Calculate how the raise will impact taxes as well, so your nanny knows what her take-home pay will be.
     

  2. You Add More Duties
    Tokayer says it’s also important to revisit your nanny’s pay anytime job duties change. Did she go from part-time to full-time? Did you ask her to start helping with light cleaning or meal prep? Is she now taking care of a pet? Make sure you pay extra for additional chores.
     
  3. You Had a Baby
    If your nanny will now be caring for a new infant in addition to your other kids, you should definitely raise your nanny’s rate. It doesn’t have to be a large raise, but it should start at a few more dollars per hour, to account for her new responsibilities.
     
  4. Your Nanny Received New Education or Certifications
    Whenever your nanny goes above and beyond to improve or expand her skill set, it’s important to adjust her pay accordingly. Certification in CPR, child development or related skills makes her better at her job and more attractive to other families. Your rate should stay competitive.

    “The more experience your nanny has, the more marketable she’ll be to other people, so you’ll want to retain her,” says Brandi Jordan, early child development specialist and founder of The Cradle Company Parenting Center and Boutique.
     

  5. You’re Underpaying
    It’s a mistake that happens to a lot of new parents; they just don’t know how much a nanny should cost. Pair that with a nanny who is still learning the ropes and the result is often an underpaid nanny. Fortunately, this is easy to fix. Simply use Care.com’s pay calculator to figure out the going rate for child care in your neighborhood. Adjust what you’re paying, if necessary.
     
  6. Your Nanny Is the Best
    While this is totally subjective, it can be the most important factor when you consider giving your nanny a raise. Does she regularly do more than what’s expected of her? Do your kids love her? Do you love her? If you said yes to these questions, your compensation should reflect your appreciation. This will help ensure that she stays with your family and feels appreciated for her hard work.

Did You Budget for a Raise?
Most families are on a budget, so the idea of having to shell out extra cash to your nanny each year makes many uneasy. But it doesn’t have to, especially if you plan ahead when you create your child care budget. “Think about what your pay raise schedule would be (is it 6 months, a year, etc.),” says Jordan. That way, you can be sure to put away a little extra money each month to account for the raise next year.

What If You Can’t Afford a Raise?
“Although it’s recommended to give a raise after a year, each case is different and there may be extenuating circumstances,” shares Lauren Harris, a parent, former nanny and day care worker in Reston, Virginia. You have to consider your personal situation when making the decision, as personal circumstances play a role for parents when determining all expenses in their lives.

“Maybe you can’t afford a $50 weekly increase, but you can probably manage a smaller increase,” says Harris. And raises don’t always appear on the paycheck. Extra money that would typically go towards a raise could go toward health insurance, car insurance, a cell phone or extra paid vacation time.

For ideas, check out these 12 Nanny Job Benefits

If you can’t add anything to her package, it may be time to look into other child care options and ways to save money on child care. Just as you wouldn’t buy a car you couldn’t afford, you shouldn’t be paying your nanny more than you can afford.

Nannies have expenses as well and shouldn’t shoulder the entire burden of a weakened economy. And if you’re cutting out your nanny’s annual raise, but haven’t cut back on pricey dinners out, she may have a harder time understanding than if she sees you cutting back everywhere.

Did You Have “the Talk”?
Whatever your economic situation, don’t be afraid of having “the talk.” It’s important to be open and honest with your nanny about your raise expectations when drawing up the initial nanny contract. Be clear about when your nanny can expect a raise, and you’ll save her from the discomfort of having to ask for one later on.

“Good communication is the key,” Tokayer says. “Most nannies understand the state of the economy. It’s important to talk about why you are giving a raise or why you are not.” If a nanny has typically received annual raises, and now she’s not, it’s even more important to talk about contributing factors.

Though she may form a strong bond with your children and your family, a nanny is still an employee and you’re her boss. You need to respect her hard work and offer regular raises to keep her happy in your employ.

Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California. When she’s not typing at a frantic pace, she’s spending time with her family, knitting or watching Doctor Who, often all at once. Find out more about her at Digital Inkwell.